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Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Southeast

Regional Culture Shock: Moving to the Southeast
December 28, 2018

The Southeast Region:

  • Georgia
  • Louisiana
  • Florida
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Mississippi

Moving to the Southeast States

Known for iced tea, grits, and frying just about anything, the South East states boast generally warm and muggy climates, ready access to either the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, and the habit of combining words like “y’all” and “yes’m.”

Southern hospitality is a real thing, and it will be on full display with large events like Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day or in the surprising depth of history and culture offered in cities like Birmingham and Savannah.

Moving to Florida

Sunshine! Perpetual Summer! Disney World! Beaches! Also, Humidity! 90-degree December Weather! Tourists! And Hurricanes!

As with any regional changes, adapting to Florida culture might take some time. You’ll have to make peace with the notion of living in a state that has been, since at least November 2000, the subject of a metric ton of national punch lines. Google the term “Florida Man” and you’ll get an idea of what we mean. Also, Florida has a Stand Your Ground rule, so think twice before making rude gestures in traffic. In fact, it’s probably best to work from the assumption that everyone has a gun on them.

Being a land of perpetual summer does have pros and cons.

Pro: It’s beach weather ten months out of the year.

Con: Some of the more populated beaches will be filled with tourists who keep requesting Jimmy Buffett songs from the house bands.

Pro: You can walk around in flip flops, baggy shorts, and a tank top and most people won’t give you a second glance.

Con: Your boss does not qualify as “most people” and may want to have a word with you in HR.

Pro: Hurricane parties.

Con: Hurricane cleanups.

Pro: Beautiful nature preserves filled with wildlife.

Con: Sometimes said wildlife will jump in your pool, raid your garbage cans or, in rare instances, crawl up the toilet pipe.

Moving to Georgia

The best advice for anyone moving to Georgia? Avoid Atlanta traffic when you can.

The city itself is full of historic features: the Civil Rights Movement started here, it survived Sherman’s March during the Civil War, and offers less hauntings and purported ghost sightings than Savannah.

But historical does tend to run with the fun in Georgia. Tallapoosa features an annual New Year’s Eve event where a stuffed opossum gets lowered in a lit-up ball to mark the arrival of a new year, an activity that seems truly Georgian to an outsider. The only way the event could possibly be more Georgian would be if the ball was also covered in peaches and the opossum was singing “Georgia on My Mind” and throwing peanuts and pecans from its paws during the descent.

Moving to Alabama

Alabama Scenic Nature Bellingrath Gardens Landscape

Any state in the Southeast region will feature rural areas; Alabama perfects them.

Alabama has the ability to brag about being the only state with the natural resources to make iron and steel, making the state the largest supplier of cast-iron and steel pipe products. If the United States were a fantasy realm, Alabama is where all the blacksmiths would hang out.

The industrialist vibe running through the state gets celebrated in various ways. The U.S. Rocket and Space Center, featuring NASA designs built with Alabama materials, makes its home in Huntsville. The Vulcan of Birmingham, a giant statue of a blacksmith, towers over the city. Building things goes hand-in-hand with living in Alabama.

As the one-time capital of the Confederate States of America and the sight of several important events during the Civil Rights Movement, Alabama culture features a unique mix of varying viewpoints. It’s not uncommon to see the Confederate flag on display in Alabama, but it’s also the sight of many famous desegregation battles.

Moving to Louisiana

When considering Louisiana culture, one has to consider the music and food.

Yes, there’s Bourbon Street. Yes, there’s Mardi Gras. And yes, there is gambling. But when you’re moving to a place famed as a cultural melting pot, the music and food always take center stage. The cultural mix in this state features a blend of French, Spanish, German, African, Irish, and Native American influences.

(For those who have visited or live in Louisiana, they’d probably agree that Irish influences have made their mark here too, perhaps not in the cuisine, though.)

Transplants to Louisiana should embrace that mix and enjoy a culture that stresses celebrations and good music.

Moving to South Carolina

Religion plays a large role in most Southeast states. It’s not uncommon to drive down a road and encounter multiple houses of worship. South Carolina is no exception; Charleston is known as “The Holy City” due to the 400-plus worship houses within its boundaries, and it’s safe to assume most of them need volunteers for the post-service pot luck dinner.

South Carolina also serves as the home of several interesting wildlife features. Morgan Island is the home to a huge colony of rhesus monkeys, the state has its own version of the Lock Ness Monster, and the big squirrels found throughout the state look like they could beat up a small pony or, possibly, mug a pedestrian.

Moving to Arkansas

First of all, it’s pronounced AR-KAN-SAW, not AR-KAN-SAUCE. Secondly, pronouncing it as AR-KANSAS will result in a long stare from the residents.

Arkansas is known as the Natural State, presumably because of the preference for outdoor activities and not because of any influence from out-of-state plastic surgeons. The state boasts a wide variety of outside diversions including floating, another term for tubing that in no way involves clowns and red balloons.

Camouflage clothing gets worn a great deal here, even by people who aren’t hunting, and it’s not uncommon to hear gunshots go off in the middle of the day. As long as the gunshot isn’t followed with someone yelling, “Make my day!” or “I’ll be back!” you should be fine.

Moving to Mississippi

Moving to Mississippi means coming to an understanding about the word Mississippi. Blues music originated on the delta, Mark Twain wrote about river, and the state has a long history, and people STILL need a spellchecker when writing it out.

Aside from that, you’ll have to contend with odd laws like how far you can keep your horse (50 feet from the road), a private citizen may arrest anyone that interrupts a church service (so turn off the damn phone), and don’t try to explain polygamy to anyone; you can be arrested for that.


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